Do Christians Fast Because Food and Drink Are Bad?

Loving Too Much

There are a number of ways that God has provided for us in order to ensure that he remains supreme. Given the sinfulness of our hearts, the things of earth can become a distraction, can become too precious to us—not too precious in an absolute sense as though there is a ranking, but too precious in relation to our love for God.

The key issue is whether or not we love them more than him, not whether or not we love them too much. In principle, you could love them more, which would make you love God more, which would make you love them more, and it ought to just kind of ratchet up like that. But, it might be that you love them more and then God is diminished.—that’s what God is concerned about when it comes to idolatry.

I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

There are a number of things that he’s given to us as disciplines for the Christian life in our pilgrim condition in this world. One of them is fasting. Fundamentally, fasting is about abstaining from food and drink—even though, by extension, we can fast from other good things.

Awakening Soul Hunger

We don’t fast because food and drink are bad. It’s pagan to think that we’re not eating or drinking because the food and drink are bad—that’s not a Christian way to think. Instead we say I’m fasting from this because it’s good. Because it’s good, I’m going to forego the lesser good in order to awaken hunger for the lesser good, and then connect the hunger for the lesser good to the soul hunger for the greatest good.

This is why Jesus can come to us and say I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

Lewis on the Christian Life

Joe Rigney

Joe Rigney explores particular themes that run throughout C. S. Lewis's popular and lesser-known writings, illuminating how they help readers develop a deeper awareness of God's presence and work in their lives.

That verse doesn’t mean anything to you if you’ve never been hungry or thirsty. Fasting can cultivate the reality of what hunger feels like—the ache, the emptiness, and the longing for physical food. Then, we can recognize what Jesus means when he says that he is for my soul and I need to come to him the way that I’m going to come to the food when I break my fast.

That’s what God’s after in fasting. That’s what self-denial is. That’s what all of the ascetic tendencies in the New Testament are designed to help to create—that sense of longing for the good in order that we can then transpose that longing onto God, who is the source of every good.

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